This has been a weird December for New Yorkers: warm weather, heavy mist, darkly cloudy skies. Forecasts predict a Christmas nearing 70° and no snow until mid-January. That makes Sara Rachele’s “Merry Christmas Baby” the answer when your family asks you to put on music this week — or, if you’re a Christmas orphan, just the thing to listen to alone on Friday morning.
Rachele’s new track is a reverb-drenched, macabre take on saccharine winter classics that deserves play even when the snow melts; it might be about Christmas, but with its heavy haze, psych guitars, and Rachele’s slow-burn croon, it could easily soundtrack a heady, humid beach bender, too. The track is darker than Rachele’s earlier (and equally good) output, which shares the same retro stylings but often opts for a cleaner pop sound. The progression into thicker effects suits her voice, which floats through the more complex production without sounding out of place or getting lost in the fuzz.
Unsurprisingly, Rachele draws comparisons to Julee Cruise, whose memorable appearance on Twin Peaks defined their shared brand of surreal doo-wop-inflected ballads. But Rachele’s is an updated version that takes its roots a little more seriously, and one well worth catching live when she plays Rockwood Music Hall on December 30. Whether or not she plays this song post-25th is up to her, but either way it’s a gift for anyone who prefers unsettling chills over shiny holiday spirits. Listen to Sara Rachele’s “Merry Christmas Baby” below.